WORKPLACE COVID LAWSUITS EXPECTED TO RISE: Employers are likely to see an increase in Covid-19-related lawsuits as more and more people head back to work amid the lifting of coronavirus-related restrictions, according to two Maryland-based employment attorneys, writes Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.

AS BUDGET CUTS LOOM, BPW URGED TO PROTECT FRAGILE MARYLANDERS: The Board of Public Works, which has sole domain over the state budget when the General Assembly isn’t in session, is expected to vote on a round of spending cuts at its next meeting Wednesday — the first day of the 2021 fiscal year. But in advance of the meeting, a coalition of 27 progressive groups wrote this week to the board urging members to protect Maryland’s most vulnerable residents as they decide what cutbacks to make, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.

COVID CASE UPDATE: There are 65,337 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maryland as of June 24. The state health department offers a county by county breakdown, Sun staff reports.

  • Two more residents of elder care facilities have died of COVID-19, Carroll County Health Department announced Wednesday, and the county added 11 new cases overall, Brian Compere Carroll County Times reports.
  • The Allegany County Health Department on Wednesday reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday, the Cumberland Times News reports. The new cases include six inmates at North Branch Correctional Institution and four community members – a male in his teens, a male in his 20s, a male in his 30s and a female in her 20s.

STATE DIGS THROUGH JOBLESS CLAIMS: Maryland is slowly digging out of a backlog of unemployment claims even as state labor officials say they are wrangling information to comply with a federal subpoena, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

  • During a briefing for the legislature’s COVID-19 Workgroup Wednesday, Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson rebuffed suggestions that Maryland copy a Vermont program that gives $1,200 payments to people whose benefits claims aren’t resolved within two weeks of being filed, reports Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters.

CRAB PROCESSORS FACE NEW THREAT: Around half of Maryland’s crab processing plants will close permanently if President Donald Trump’s new executive order freezing work visas through 2020 is maintained next year, according to an industry leader, Ellie Heffernan of the Daily Record reports.

FROSH, OTHER AGS PUSH FOR HEALTH CARE ENROLLMENT: Despite an historic pandemic, the Trump administration has refused to allow people who don’t have health insurance the opportunity to purchase coverage through the federal exchange, HealthCare.Gov. This week more than a dozen state attorneys general — including Maryland’s Brian E. Frosh (D) — joined a legal fight to force the government to create a special enrollment window, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.

PG EATERIES DELAY INDOOR DINING: Starting June 15, restaurants in Prince George’s County were allowed to re-open their indoor dining rooms with 50% capacity and social distancing, but like other restaurant owners, operating partner Phil Gainey of Jerry’s Seafood said they will continue to operate as a carryout only for now, writes Rachael Pacella of the Capital Gazette.

LAUREL CHURCHES REOPEN, SAFELY: Upon entering St. Nicholas Catholic Church for Saturday afternoon Mass, parishioners were asked a series of health questions and had their temperatures taken. Masks had to be worn. As they were directed to their seats, they found pews taped off to allow social distancing. There was no singing and no sharing of handshakes during the offering of peace, Katie Jones reports in the Laurel Leader.

STATE MAY JETTISON SONG IN 2021: Some local leaders predict that 2021 will be the year that Maryland rids itself of a Confederate-themed state song after nearly half a century of trying, Mary Carole McCauley reports in the Sun. “Chances are exponentially better that this time we’ll get that song repealed,” said Kobi Little, president of the Baltimore City branch of the NAACP.

‘UNITY STATUE’ PROPOSED TO REPLACE TALBOT BOYS: Candice Spector of the Easton Star Democrat reports that Talbot County Council Member Frank Divilio during a Tuesday, June 23, council meeting suggested that the county replace the Talbot Boys monument with a “unity statue” that memorializes both Union and Confederate soldiers.

TWO POLICE SHOOTINGS, TWO CONCLUSIONS: Baltimore County Police released body camera footage showing an officer fatally shooting an Owings Mills man who ran from officers after a handgun fell out of his vehicle at an Essex townhome complex. Wilborn Nobles reports in the Sun that prosecutors said the footage shows the shooting was justified and do not plan to file criminal charges against the officer.

  • Baltimore police officers “shot first and asked questions later,” when they opened fire in April on a 16-year-old boy with a BB gun, striking him in the arm, his civil attorney said this week, while the teen’s public defender is calling on prosecutors to drop charges filed against him, Justin Fenton of the Sun reports.

FREDERICK POLICE CHIEF: OFFICERS NEED SOCIAL ISSUES TRAINING: Even if the city of Frederick were to develop a full-time crisis unit to help police interact with people undergoing mental health or other crises, the city’s acting police chief believes officers should still be trained to handle those situations as well, writes Ryan Marshall for the Frederick News Post.

BLACKS STUDENTS MAKE UP HALF OF MO CO SCHOOL ARRESTS: As Montgomery County debates whether to keep police officers based in its schools, new data show that Black children make up one-fifth of MCPS’ student population, but account for nearly half of student arrests over the past three years, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat reports.

FUTURE OF PURPLE LINE: The future of the $2 billion Purple Line project became more complicated after the companies overseeing the project said they will end a public-private partnership with the state if a dispute over cost overruns and extended delays isn’t settled, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.

MONSANTO SETTLEMENT INCLUDES LOCAL RIVER CLEANUP: A $550 million class-action settlement announced Wednesday between Monsanto Co. and 13 governmental entities across the country includes money to clean up chemical contamination in the Patapsco and Back rivers and Lake Roland, in Baltimore and Baltimore County, Scott Dance reports in the Sun.

FREDERICK OKS 5.6% HIKE IN SCHOOL BUDGET: Although the state still has not provided final funding numbers for Frederick County Public Schools, the Board of Education unanimously approved the operating budget for fiscal year 2021 on Wednesday. The total operating budget for FY21 is $674.5 million, a 5.9% increase from the current year, Katryna Perera of the Frederick News-Post reports.

CARROLL YOUTH AG FAIR TO GO ON, SANS PUBLIC: The Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair will go on this year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event will not be open to the public, writes Mary Grace Keller for the Carroll County Times.